Even for those of us who paid attention at school, mastering the basics of just one foreign language can be a mammoth task. Getting the hang of more than one would be even more of an effort, although it would come in handy when you’re on holiday.
As a part of the Galaxy S4’s extensive feature set, Samsung has included a new app called S Translator which can convert text into up to nine different languages. It’s something which could prove very handy to those who travel often, helping to get you through tricky situations when abroad.
S Translator may not be as versatile as Google Translate, which exists as an app and web-based service and can boast support for upwards of 60 languages, but Samsung’s offering does have extra elements that give it its own edge.
Upon opening the app you are presented with an interface that sees the screen split horizontally, each half dominated by a large text box. Each of these boxes can be set to recognise a different language and text can then easily be translated between the two. For instance, if you select English in one half and German in the other you can enter text in either language and have it translated at the tap of a button.
Inputting text is done by either typing it in with the onscreen keypad as you would with a text message, or by saying it out loud. There are two buttons to control voice input at the bottom of the app’s interface, one for each of the selected languages. Simply press the appropriate one for the language you want to use and it will convert what you say into text with an impressive degree of accuracy.
The app’s voice functions don’t end there though – it can also read out translated text in any of the nine languages at the tap of a button. The functionality as a whole is impressive and while the speech inevitably sounds slightly robotic it is clear and uses appropriate inflections that make it much easier to listen to and understand.
There are many situations in which S Translator has applications, the majority involving holidays in foreign countries. Written words that you don’t understand can easily be translated into English and you could prepare phrases ahead of arriving at your destination (whereas before you may have had to look them up in a phrasebook). The speech feature also makes the whole process more fluid; words can be entered quickly and the fact that they can be read out loud by the Galaxy S4 will be a big help in working out pronunciation.
We can even picture a bizarre situation where two people who have no shared language could speak to each other indirectly by using the handset to translate as they go along. As we say, this would be very strange and would probably push the boundaries of courtesy, but in an emergency it could be enormously useful. However, anyone using it will have to keep their data use in mind, as there is no offline support and a network connection is required.
As a translation service, S Translator may not be able to understand as many languages as Google Translate can but it makes good use of its smartphone platform, coupling voice recognition and synthesized speech together to create an excellent tool.